Occupational Therapy is an art and science of enabling and incorporating skills in a child to help them participate in everyday living through occupation. “Occupation” here means and includes things that children need to, want to and are expected to do.
An Occupational Therapist (OT) will help children with their
Attention span and arousal level
Sensory and processing skills
Fine and gross motor skills
Activities of daily living (ADLs), also known as self-help skills, such as brushing teeth, dressing and toilet training; visual-perceptual skills; handwriting etc.
Children with sensory processing issues cannot analyse all the information received by them through their five senses like touch, hearing, taste, smell and sight and two internal senses like body awareness (proprioception) and movement ( vestibular). Proprioception allows for motor control and posture, while vestibular system tells the brain where the body is in space that is about balance and coordination.
Children with sensory processing issues may be hypo or hyper sensitive to various sensory inputs. An extremely hypersensitive child tends to be withdrawn because they are easily distracted by auditory and visual stimuli making it difficult for them to pay attention and participate in class; whereas those who are under-sensitive crave for input. They will keep moving, touching everything, and even tripping or crashing into other kids. It’s easy to see why this type of behavior leads to a diagnosis of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which the child may or may not have.
An Occupational Therapy (OT) will apply a sensory checklist on children to determine sensory processing difficulties and will accordingly form a plan (sensory Diet) for these children. Sensory Diet is a planned, personalized schedule of sensory activities for a child which helps them to better handle their activities of daily living. It will help the child function well at school, and at home, so that they can learn, socialize, eat meals with family and friends without stress and struggle. By providing a sensory diet, one can over a period retrain the brain to process sensory information from sensory receptors in a more typical way, which will promote self-regulation of activity, focus, and mood.